Advice Literature

The collection holds a number of advice texts across various areas of female life.

The potential of the household and family as targets for advice authors is evident in both the marriage and health sections. The marriage section includes a number of texts relating to parenting such as Sheila Kitzinger’s The year after childbirth: surviving the first year of motherhood (1994). Similarly the Health section contains some earlier advice for mothers including Mabel Liddiard’s The mothercraft manual (1940) and Leslie Housden’s Mothercraft: a simple guide for mothers in bringing up their babies (1929) at a time when more scientifically-informed approaches to childcare were prevalent.

Some of this health advice interacts with self-care and personal appearance, such as the Every woman's book of health and beauty (1935) and Jean Cleland’s Be beautiful: a complete guide to beauty for women of all ages (1946).

The ‘domesticity’ section contains manuals focusing on the maintenance of home life, such as Shirely Conran’s Superwoman: everywoman's book of household management (1975) and Rose Buckner's book of homemaking (1950) which includes cookery as part of a wider insight on ‘How to keep the family happy’. Indeed, this section holds a vast array of recipe books, mainly from the later twentieth century as advice works became more specialized. Some of these claim to provide financial or health benefits, or simply enrich its readers’ skillset as a housewife. Hospitality was another avenue for advice, exemplified in Geneviève Antoine Dariaux’s Entertaining with elegance (1966), reflecting the interests of contemporary middle-class audiences.


Holly Jennings